‘Tis the season to look back on the year that is passing away. By far, the thought that traveled across my consciousness most often in 2015 was:
Why in the world did I think it was a good idea to become president of a 501(c)3? Even our small Derry Township Community Cats?
Did I really need a second full-time job?
Even worse, am I that much of a workaholic? (Actually, the answer to that one is pretty easy. Hi, my name is Debra and I’m a workaholic.)
Trying to take our little Derry Township Community Cat program to the next level this last year has been one of the hardest tasks I’ve taken on in many years. But let’s be honest. It has also been one of the most rewarding.
Can I see another’s woe, And not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, And not seek for kind relief? — William Blake
On the worst of days…and there were more than enough of them…it is still all about the cats. Cats that were abandoned, in some cases. Cats who have been injured and need medical care. Cats who have to survive cold winter nights outside, and sometimes don’t make it to morning.
Cats who have litter after litter after litter of kittens, who often don’t make it either, and if they do, they just start making their own babies. That’s why we – and I mean those of us who do trap/neuter/return work, and those who take care of colonies of feral cats that just show up on their property, and those who donate time or money or resources to help the rest of us – that’s why we do the work. To help the cats, and to prevent even more kittens from being born to a short life or difficult existence. It is all about the cats.
“Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.” ― Albert Schweitzer
Most of them go back to their colonies. Some, too sick to return, go to one of various sanctuaries we have relationships with, to live out their lives in a safe place. Every once in a while, thankfully not often, we have to euthanize a cat. We took in four newborns recently, and one of our wonderful volunteers nursed the kittens for four weeks only to find that they all had FeLV (feline leukemina), deadly to kittens especially, and we had to let them all go. Euthanizing any cat is hard. Euthanizing kittens is heartbreaking.
Other kittens, if they are young and malleable enough to adapt to the companionship of people, go to local rescues and get furever homes. That’s the best part – getting the young ones off the streets and into the arms of people who will love them.
So, it was definitely a hard year. We didn’t have a building to house the cats pre and post surgery, or a place for the sick cats who usually need an extended stay, so almost all of the 144 cats we TNR’d this year came through my garage or basement, or my spare bedroom which was the infirmary. At times there were 15-20 cats in the house, and I’m more than happy to report that we will have a building soon, where the cats can hang out. A sick one or two may still get to visit my infirmary, especially if they need constant care, but most of the cats will enjoy the hospitality of our new facility.
Making that happen was the hardest part of this last year, but it is underway, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and our municipality. It was a hard year…a year in which I was sorely tempted to give up several times. But it came together in the end. We will be starting 2016 with the resources we need to finish trapping and caring for all the cats of our municipality. (Here kitty, kitty…)
We’ve made amazing progress in the three years we’ve been in existence. We’ve TNR’d around 750 cats. 70% of the cats we trapped this year had already been “done.” (They had ear tips, a small slice off the top of the left ear, to indicate that they’ve already been spayed or neutered.) Finishing the job is in sight, especially with a building where we can do so many more cats at a time. I look forward to what we’ll get done in 2016, and I am going to resist thinking about what I can spend my days on once all the cats of Derry Township have graduated from our program. Hi, I’m Debra, and I’m a workaholic.
Happy 2016 to us all!
For those who celebrate Christmas, my wishes for a blessed and joyful one.
For those of you who are pet sitters who celebrate Christmas, may you have a day filled with sweet animals and not a single emergency!!
(Had to include at least one dog photo! Butterscotch, several years ago, with Santa.)
The Monday lesson: It is very difficult to move a 75 pound dog who can’t stand up and who hurts. The lesson? Assume that when he growls at you he means it and back off.
Poor Paris had another episode of non-specific ouchies the last few days, so off to the vet he went Monday morning. No broken or torn stuff…nothing specific. Just an old and large dog, and a spine that tires sometimes from carrying around 75 pounds of dog. He’s done this a few times over the last year, so he gets an NSAID for a few days, and starts with Butterscotch’s chiropractor next week. Let Dr. Maria help Paris’s body heal itself.
In the meantime, we have a sling to help him up and down, and once he gets moving he does okay. He’s not a fan of the stairs at the moment, or even getting up much. He’s content to be on the dog bed, and have his breakfast served there, so that’s what we’ll do for the time being. A couple days of the Carprofen and I think he’ll feel better.
And with a little help from Dr. Maria next week, I think he’ll feel a lot better. Hang in there, Bud.
As the first really cold days chill our bones, I think of all the cats who live outside. The community cats don’t want to live in our homes, but the winter weather is tough on those guys. I am grateful for all of those who leave food and water and shelter for them, and think of the cats as they gather (this week’s photo challenge theme) to feed.
Some of you may remember my stories of the kittens we pulled out of a very difficult living situation this fall. There were some 2 month old kittens that weighed only one pound each, a reflection of the scarcity of food and resources they lived with. They got to hang out with me for a few weeks of morning and evening eye drops and antibiotics for their ailments while they ate to their heart’s content and put on weight so we could start their vaccines, and eventually get them into good homes.
The four 2 month olds lived in a big kitty condo full of shelves to play on. They weren’t strong enough to get to them in their first week, but it didn’t take too much food and time before they were jumping up on them and having a blast. They played like little demons when they were awake. They tore the place up – total slobs – and I had to clean up after them several times a day. When they got tired they all curled up in a ball and slept like little angels.
As they recovered they went into foster care with a wonderful local rescue group, and found their ways into good homes. I got news last evening, however, that one of them – Patrick – had to be euthanized. He developed FIP, feline infectious peritonitis – which is almost always fatal. Poor Patrick was probably about six months old, and he spent the first two months of his life in miserable conditions. I’m glad the rest of his days were more comfortable and happy, but mostly I hope that the little guy hasn’t used up his nine lives, and that he gets reincarnated or something into a much better life. He deserved more. If it were in my power to give him a do-over, I’d do it in a flash.
I’m sure the folks who adopted him only a month ago are heartbroken. I know I am. RIP Patrick.